COLOGNE: Cristiano Ronaldo is Europe's most marketable footballer, far ahead of rivals such as Wayne Rooney and Andres Iniesta, according to a new analysis.

Repucom, a media evaluation business focusing on sports and entertainment, found that, globally, 85% of all men and 80% of all women had heard of the Portuguese star.

And at 77.46, the player's DBI score – an index that quantifies consumer perceptions of celebrities based on seven key attributes – outstripped the others in the top ten by a distance.

Wayne Rooney, of Manchester United and England, was in second place with a DBI score of 58.01, while Andres Iniesta, of Barcelona and Spain, was in third with a score of 56.02.

Repucom pointed out, however, that overall marketability and public awareness levels were not the only factors marketers should consider, as player appeal and public aspiration compared on a national versus global basis can be just as important.

Thus, not only do 99% of the Spanish population know of Iniesta, 90% aspire to be like him and 87% say they trust him.

And globally, of the 48% of people who know of Iniesta, he commands the highest perception scores of any of the other top ten players for both public aspiration (80%) and trust (71%).

All players are of course better known in their native markets than elsewhere but perceptions of them differ widely. Half of all the players in the top ten have a larger proportion of people who aspire to be like them coming from outside their own market.

These include Germany's Mesut Özil and Mario Götze, Netherlands team mates, Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben and England's Wayne Rooney.

"Sponsors shouldn't just look at the most famous players to market their brands but actually at how perceptions shift between countries and population demographics to ensure the biggest return on their investment," said Andrew Walsh, Global Director Enterprise Services, Repucom.

And he pointed to appeal as another defining criteria of public perception. Globally, of the percentage of people that know of Götze (39%), Van Persie (46%) and Ronaldo (83%), more women than men say that they actually like these players.

"This makes them especially effective brand endorsers for products aimed at this target group," Walsh noted.

Data sourced from Repucom; additional content by Warc staff